Monday, February 15, 2016

Ed Feser Eviscerates Jerrry Coyne's New Book

I didn't even know Coyne had another book out. His first book is a logical mess as I have concluded here, before. Ed Feser takes a look at Coyne's next shot at "religion":
Omnibus of Fallacies

The book flies off the rails before it reaches page one. In an unintentionally comic passage in his preface, Coyne explains what he has in mind by “religion.” First, he tells us that his main target isn’t religions that emphasize practice, such as “the more meditation-oriented versions of Buddhism.” Rather, it is religions that emphasize controversial truth claims about the world—in particular, “theistic faiths,” those that affirm the existence of a God or gods. But even more specifically, he says, he will “concentrate on the Abrahamic faiths: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.” Two sentences later we learn that in fact it is “mostly the various brands of Christianity that occupy this book.” But far from all the brands, since in the very next sentence he adds that, actually, he “will talk mostly about science and religion in the United States.”

By the following page he qualifies this even further, indicating that the views of “regular believers” interest him more than do the fancy arguments of theologians. Next it is conceded that it is “only a few specific areas of science,” such as Darwinism, that are rejected by religious believers. Yet, as Coyne admits, even “evolution . . . is accepted by many Jews, Buddhists, Christians, and liberal Muslims.” In short, when all the qualifications are in, it seems that Coyne’s paradigm of “religion” is Bible Belt creationism. Apparently, he was absent the day his college statistics class covered the notion of a representative sample.

But to be fair to Coyne: He doesn’t always use the term “religion” in this idiosyncratic way. And that’s the problem. He has no consistent account at all of what religion is. On one page, he will tell you that Jainism is not really the sort of thing he means by “religion.” Forty pages later, he’ll offer Jainism as an example of the sort of thing he means by “religion.” If the views of some theologian are clearly compatible with science, Coyne will assure us that what theologians have to say is irrelevant to determining what is typical of religion. But if a theologian says something that Coyne thinks is stupid, then what theologians have to say suddenly becomes highly relevant to determining what is typical of religion. When churchmen refuse to abandon some doctrine, Coyne tells us that this shows that religion is dogmatic and unwilling to adjust itself to modern knowledge. When churchmen do abandon some doctrine, Coyne tells us that this shows that religion is unfalsifiable and desperate to adjust itself to modern knowledge. It seems Coyne also missed that lecture in logic class about the fallacy of special pleading.


Of course, Coyne will disagree about whether the evidence really shows what theologians say it does. The point, though, is that whether we should have evidence for what we believe is not what is in dispute. Coyne acknowledges that “theologians intensely dislike” the definition of faith he proposes. So, he not only attacks a straw man but implicitly admits that that is what he is doing. Indeed, you will find in Coyne’s book more straw men than you would at a casting call for The Wizard of Oz. Coyne mocks John Paul II’s claim that “truth cannot contradict truth,” insinuating that the pope sought merely to conform science to religious doctrine. In fact, the pope was no less concerned to emphasize that theology has to take seriously the findings of science.


If Coyne can’t get his story straight about what he means by religion, neither does he offer a coherent account of science...
It gets even better, starting here with Coyne's vacillations on science, his own trade. Read it ALL, THERE. And there is even more, HERE.

Coyne is a poster boy for the dogmatic Atheist Ideologist who eschews logic completely in order to defend his own evidence-free and logic-free faith. His false characterizations of his hated Class War denizens proves conclusively his bigotry. Apparently the new book is a fitting companion to his previous logic-free and evidence-free book, "Why Evolution is True".

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